Introduction: Zombie-Crossbow From a Pants Hanger
Zombies are of course a major problem for anyone trying to achieve a decent APC (Apocalypse Preparedness Coefficient, obviously). And as always, it never hurts to be prepared. Imagine, if you will, that you are in a situation where the only thing that stands between you and freedom is a horde of ravenous undead. And the only thing that stands between you and this ravenous horde of undead is a cleap, flimsy door. And the only thing you can get your hands on in order to macgyver your way out of there is a spring-loaded trouser hanger. Why, you ask? Well, as a survivor you should know that there is no use asking these sciency questions in a time like this.
Apart from the trouser hanger, you might also find yourself with
- a length of sturdy twine
- a few pieces of wood
- four screws
- two tiny pieces of adhesive tape or any other kind of adhesive - even zombie goo might do the trick. Yuck.
And if the ravenous horde outside was not enough, you also realize that you locked yourself in with the following:
- any kind of saw that can cut boards into shape (bandsaw, jigsaw, coping saw, fretsaw, ...)
- something to screw screws (like, say, a screwdriver)
- an implement (or broken window) to cut the twine to length
Just so you cannot say I hid things from you, there is a video about making this project which can be found in step 4!
Step 1: Get a Grip
The grip has to fulfill several roles - provide a good handle for the hanger, which is in its factory state far from ergonomic; provide an edge for the string to bend around in order to translate a pull to the back into a simultaneous pull on both ends of the hanger; and guide the arrow to achieve a minimal amount of precision when shooting.
The idea is to sandwich the hanger between two pieces of wood, possibly using a third piece (or a cut-off) to keep them parallel. That is to say, the spacer should be of about the same thickness as the hanger's center part that is going to get clamped.
Next, there need to be two aligned holes in the two pieces that serve as a guide for the twine as well as for the projectile to be. Most commonly, that will be the center for the pieces. For this, I used a spade bit, but any other kind of holemaker would work as well, as long as you can fit the string through and still have enough room for an arrow.
If you wanted (or have the means to), you could round over the hole on the inside where the string rides against it. This would reduce tension, and could be achieved with a router and a roundover bit or as simply as with a file.
Step 2: Screw It Up
To actually connect the front and back pieces I used common wood screws. In the spirit of the project there is no pre-drilling, so you run the risk of split the wood. In my case, I used floor boards which are laminated, and less likely to crack like solid wood, but that, too, depends on the species and condition of your material.
First, put screws into the four corners of the top piece, and make sure that they are in deep enough not to fall out. Then place the bottom piece, the spacer and the top piece on top of one another in that sequence, and while you are at it make sure that you are not going to screw through the spacer - it will make things easier.
Now turn the two screwes on the spacer side until they connect top and bottom piece. Keep screwing to clamp the surplus piece in place, then slide in the hanger. Place it in such a way that the hole is centered between the two side prongs of the hanger, both horizontally as well as vertically. What I mean is that when you connect the prongs with the string in the next step the string should pass straight along the hole, and from the hole to each end there should be the same length of string (give or take what you would give or take in a survival situation).
Once the trouser hanger is placed correctly tighten down the remaining two screws all the way, until the hanger is kept firmly in place between the pieces.
Step 3: Strings Attached
Now you need to add a bowstring equivalent. You can use anything that is stable enough, and I imagine fishing line woult work just as well as thin paracord. Cut off (or scavenge) a length a little longer than the distance between your hanger's prongs - you need surplus length for two loops and some extra to extend through the hole.
Make a loop on both ends, then hang one on the first prong, thread the twine through the handle, i,e, between the both pieces of wood, and then put the free loop on the remaining prong. You can fish the surplus length through the hole, but do not pull it just yet - the loopes are likely to slip from the prongs, especially under real zombie-attack conditions.
To remedy that, take a piece of adhesive tape and wrap it around the prong, making sure it attaches the string loop and holds it somewhere near the center of the prong. This way it is easy to keep it level between both sides. I used fabric tape of duct tape which can easily be torn into, and I tore halfway in in order to have two sides to place on either side of the loop. Maybe the pictures are a little more helpful than my phrasing it.
Now give the surplus length that sticks through the hole a good pull. It should pull the prongs together with relative ease, and not slip back through the hole when you release it - hence the surplus length. Now you can start defending yourself against the ravenous undead. Congratulations!
Step 4: How to Use It - or - Watch the Video!
I would appreciate if you watched the video - some of the things I try to explain here might be more obvious when you see them done, and you can also see this diabolical contraption in action. No Zombies were harmed... At least not bad.
So the basic idea is to put a projectile through the hole and rest it against the string. If in any way possible make a notch into the end of your projectiles - wooden dowels should work best - for the string to rest in so it does not slip out.
Metal rods might work in theory, but being a lot heavier you are bound to get greatly reduced range. Not that the range for wooden dowels was that great, but you would lose even more with heavier projectiles. In an emergency situation you might want to sharpen the business end of the dowels, too.
Disclaimer: never ever aim or worse, shoot at another living being, be that person or animal. Do not use this weapon against items that are not yours and might get damaged. You are responsible for what you do with it, and so you should act responsibly. That being said, I am not responsible for what you should be responsible about, like damages you incur with this. And now have fun and hunt some Zombies!